Easily manage your company’s human capital with SAP SuccessFactors. The HR solution will allow you to effectively manage all of your talents and their information


SAP SuccessFactors: The Multi-Functional Human Resources Solution

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A company can have important financial assets, state-of-the-art premises, and quality products or services, but it cannot function without human capital

When we talk about human capital, we are of course thinking about employees, but we must also consider former employees who are likely to leave a trace in the company, as well as future employees

All these people must work for the company and its objectives. This is where the specificity and the problems of the human resources (HR) field lie.    

To do this in the most efficient way, the use of a dedicated HR application is indispensable. SAP has been the leader in this field for many years with SAP SuccessFactors 

SuccessFactors: from its Creation to its Acquisition

SuccessFactors before SAP

SuccessFactors is an American company founded in 2001 by Lars Dlagaard who developed BizX, a SaaS (Software as a Service) software suite specialized in human capital management

Unlike other solutions at the time, the goal was not only to facilitate the work of the human resources department but to align employee objectives with the company’s strategy.    

Ten years after its launch, SuccessFactors was already a direct competitor to HRIS (Human Resources Management Information System) solutions. Various complementary modules have been added to the suite adopted by more than 3,200 customers

But 2011 also marks its acquisition by the German firm SAP to develop the whole Cloud part   

The Acquisition of SuccessFactors by SAP

As early as 1986, SAP offered a human resources solution known soberly as SAP HR. It consisted of four modules:   

  • Employee Self Service (ESS) which allowed employees to update their own information
  • Management Self-Service (MSS) was dedicated to managers and leaders to access reports and update employee information
  • E-learning
  • E-recruiting 

But the German company soon realized that this was not its specialty. So, to remain competitive, it decided to buy L. Dlagaard’s HR solution in 2011, triggering a “merger” between SuccessFactors and the one already owned by SAP. The solution quickly became a must-have tool for SAP.

What are the Features of SAP SuccessFactors?

What are SuccessFactors for?

As we have said several times since the beginning of this article, SAP SuccessFactors is a tool that will allow you to manage HR business processes from end to end: the management of salaries, bonuses, and days worked… 

All the information is therefore centralized and allows the company to operate without any problems. A wide range of features makes SuccessFactors one of the most popular HR applications.   

The Modules of SuccessFactors

There are three main categories :

  • The core of human resources: as the name implies, these are the core activities of the HR profession
  • Talent management
  • Reporting and Analysis   

Within these categories, there are no less than 10 modules in SuccessFactors:

Central Employee
Provides easy access to all employee information. This makes it easier to request vacation or time off
Speed up the entire recruitment process. Talents are more easily put forward, whether internally or externally
Facilitate the integration of new employees. They can be operational more quickly, which improves the company's productivity
Training content is accessible to all. But it is mainly the managers who will have the possibility of assigning this or that content according to the teams and the needs of each one
Goal and performance
As all employees are connected, it is possible to set goals for each of them but also to follow them. This allows you to be more motivated
Often linked to the objectives, it allows us to associate the control of the objectives with the determination of the different bonuses. This makes it easier to give the right bonus to people who meet their objectives
Succession and development
Internally, it is often quite complicated to determine which people are the most suitable for higher-level positions. With this module, a link is created between each employee, their skills, the position they are targeting, and the skills expected for that position
Workforce Analysis
Real-time workforce monitoring with detailed statistics
Workforce Planning
It allows for the analysis of current workforces but also for short medium and long term simulations. It will then be easier to establish a recruitment plan (or vice versa)
This is the name of the professional and internal social network that encourages collaboration between teams and connects everyone in the company
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As with many SAP solutions, it is possible to use only a few modules, although they work best when used in synergy. Currently, the three most used modules are Goal and Performance, SAP Jam, and Learning.   

The SuccessFactors Infrastructure

At the bottom of the architecture, it is important to point out that all companies that use the application have one or more databases that are completely independent of SAP SuccessFactors. All the data is grouped within the SAP ERP (ECC, S4HANA, etc.).   

The solution is mainly published in JAVA format and uses the J2EE specification. The transactions are independent and do not depend on other transactions. This is what makes it so special compared to SAP HCM.   

Who are the Competitors of SAP SuccessFactors?

Workday offers a unique Cloud HCM solution. Unlike SuccessFactors, it offers less flexibility and customization. So, when a module is deployed in one HR process, it is deployed in all processes. 

In terms of functionality, there are similarities with SAP with, for example, talent management, payroll management, or workforce analysis.    

But Workday has often been a little late, especially for its Learning module, which was developed rather late. We will therefore choose Workday for its structuring side while SAP SuccessFactors allows more freedom and customization.    

Oracle also offers its own solution called Oracle HCM Cloud. Like SAP SuccessFactors, it is flexible and offers a range of tools, including analytics, which is highly developed with its real-time information and its highly effective prediction modules. 

The other similarity with SAP is of course its cooperation with the ERP of the American company. But there is a fundamental difference: SuccessFactors has historically specialized in human resources, unlike Oracle.  

Therefore, there is more experience with SAP. As a result, SAP SuccessFactors will be more appropriate for larger companies with an important level of complexity in terms of organization and workforce thanks to its unique functionalities.    

Finally, the biggest difference will be in the pricing. While Oracle offers a monthly subscription, SAP offers a one-time payment for unlimited use of the solution.    

What are the reasons for SAP SuccessFactors success?

It’s no coincidence that SAP SuccessFactors is one of the most widely used HR solutions in the industry today. Indeed, it has many advantages:   

An international solution: Software available in many languages (more than 40 available). In addition, with the Recruiting Marketing module, it is possible to post an ad and track it easily in over 80 countries   

Fast and transparent integration with SAP S4/HANA. This is a key point to which we will return later in this article.   

Power of many solutionsc : it is composed of multiple integrated platforms. It is different from the power of one solution (a solution is composed of a single platform) and niche payers (a single platform that covers only one area such as human resources for example)   

Increased security: the application supports many features such as data purging, consent agreement, or auditing of changes, thus respecting the right to privacy and the RGPD guidelines.   

Responsive: a mobile application exists that allows HR managers to manage and approve recruitment steps; this application can also be used to apply for internal company positions.     

How to Integrate and use the SAP SuccessFactors Solution ?

Two types of integration are possible. SAP SuccessFactors offers an Integration Center as part of the SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite. It allows you to easily set up all the modules based on a pre-configured SFTP server. 

There are four main elements: My integration, Monitor Integration, Data Model Navigator, and Security Center. The first two will be the ones you will use the most. We will therefore see in more detail how they work   

My Integration

With this module, it is possible to set up a new integration by integrating data in many formats: CSV, txt, XML… 

Note that this can be done via a web service with an external system (outbound integration within this case the implementation of REST or SOAP API is possible) or not (inbound integration). The reuse of integration is also possible with the Business Hub API created by SAP

Monitoring Integration :

This allows you to monitor completed integrations and especially the status of those in progress to identify possible errors and repair them

Another integration is also possible via SCPI thanks to:  

  • SFAPI, a SOAP API that allows you to import or export data between the ERP and SAP SuccessFactors and to perform CRUD-type actions 
  • OData connectors

SAP CPI offers an option for using these APIs in an intuitive way: the SAP SuccessFactors adapter. Depending on the API you want to connect, the adapter offers different options:   


These are the tools that will read the data and allow you to connect SAP SuccessFactors to the APIs or to OData in order to facilitate the integration.   

Once integrated, there are three ways to access the solution:   

  • Via a web page with a classic authentication request
  • Via a web service in a more automated way to receive information from other systems
  • Via a flat-file FTPS or SFTP

Why use SuccessFactors in your Company?

Today, the role of a human resources manager is to get the right mix of business goals and the talent or employees needed to achieve them. It’s not about having the most competent team possible, but rather that they work with the same objectives. 

Just like the company, the HR field is becoming digitalized to save time, be more productive, and focus on more rewarding activities.    

The information possessed by human resources is of excellent value to the company. Sharing and exchanging should be made easier with tools like SuccessFactors.    

With real-time information and modules that cover the entire field, SAP SuccessFactors is the solution your company needs

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